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• In Syria: ‘The Protocols’ are somewhere in Rifaat Eid’s drawers.

By JOHNNY WEST [Granta] –When I called Rifaat Eid, the man who can get 1,500 armed Alawis onto the streets, he told me to drop by in the evening. How will I find you, I asked. Just head to the Jabel Mohsen district and ask, he said. He was right…

He sat forward, hands woven together on the desk in front of him. He was in his early thirties, with close-cropped hair and a bull neck, wearing a button-down shirt and slacks. Although he told me his wife and children were US citizens and that he himself had a green card and travelled there every summer, Rifaat spoke almost no English.

Behind him was a trophy bookcase stacked with a multi-volume series of the works and collected thoughts of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad and Moussa Sadr, the charismatic preacher whom many credit with having helped Lebanon’s dispossessed Shia community find their voice back in the 70s. All of them displaying a large portrait of their heroes spread across the spine of the entire series. Books to be admired rather than read. In English, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Children’s Britannica and Patrick Seale’s biography Asad of Syria. On the walls were big glossy photos of the Assads father and son, and Rifaat’s own father Ali Eid, who had mobilized Lebanon’s Alawites in the 1970s.

‘Have you read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?’ he asked me. ‘It’s very good, I’ll find you a copy.’ He started to rummage around in his drawers, muttering something about how, a century ago, it had had the foresight to predict war in underground tunnels. I couldn’t see what was prophetic about that and in fact was more concerned about how to get out of receiving a copy. Where I come from, it’s a book that defiles you.

Continued in Granta | More Chronicle & Notices.

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